Rogers accounted for four of ASU’s six runs after going 3-5 with a homer, a stolen base, two runs scored and two RBI. His first-inning blast was ASU’s first long ball of the season. The walk-off marked the first season-opening walkoff at Phoenix Muni since a 5-4 (10) victory on Feb. 13, 2015, which was the first-ever game at Muni.
THE TURNING POINT
After giving up the lead in the seventh, Will Rogers singled with a pushed single through the left side. He advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Then, with no out, on the first pitch of Wyatt Crenshaw’s at-bat, Rogers stole third, evading the tag. Crenshaw drove him in on a sacrifice fly to tie the game at four after the eighth.
THE BIG MOMENT
Kien Vu stepped to the plate for his first collegiate at-bat as a pinch hitter, leading off the bottom of the ninth. Vu worked the count full before he laced a single up the middle, starting the rally in the ninth. He went on to score the tying run on Luke Keaschall’s triple.
THE FINAL STRAW
Will Rogers had an exceptional performance. After a first inning moonshot home run, a sliding catch in left field and manufacturing the game-tying run in the eighth, he belted a line drive down the left field line with the bases loaded and no outs in the ninth, propelling the Sun Devils to victory.
INNING BY INNING
Ross Dunn opened with a heavy mix of fastballs. Against the first hitter of his Sun Devil Baseball career, he caught the inside-edge of the plate against a right-handed hitter before forcing a swing-and-miss strike three. A series of miscues forced the bases loaded, but ASU escaped the frame with no blood drawn on a 6-4-3 double play.
In the bottom half, Luke Keaschall was hit by a pitch in his first at-bat as a Sun Devil. After being picked off at first, Ryan Campos laced a double down the right field line. Then, with two out, Jacob Tobias singled in Campos for a 1-0 Arizona State lead. Tobias was cut down at second to end the inning.
Dunn set down the side on eight pitches. After throwing seven straight fastballs to open the game, he registered his second strikeout of the game on a slider, clipping the outside corner. It was the first 1-2-3 inning of his career as a Sun Devil.
As the first Sun Devil batter of the second inning, Will Rogers smoked a into deep left field for the Sun Devils’ first home run of the 2023 season and the 10th of his career. After two quick outs, freshman Luke Hill registered his first career hit with a double off the left field wall. In the following at-bat, freshman Nu’u Contrades added his first career hit with a single to shallow center field, giving ASU a 2-0 lead into the third inning.
Ross Dunn worked around a leadoff double with two consecutive groundouts, ending his night a touch above his desired pitch-limit of 45. Christian Bodlovich entered on the mound and forced a pop fly to second, ending the third.
Ethan Long found his way on base for the first time in 2023 with a two-out walk, but nothing came of it for the Sun Devils.
Rogers snagged a line drive with a sliding effort on the first batter of the inning. Owen Stevenson began his Sun Devil career with a 1-2-3 inning on 11 pitches.
Rogers struck out on a 77 MPH breaking ball to open the bottom of the inning. On the following at-bat, freshman Isaiah Jackson reached base for the first time in his career after getting hit by a pitch. Hill recorded his first career RBI with a line-drive up the middle, scoring Jackson for his first career run.
Stevenson faced the minimum on 13 pitches in his second inning, forcing a 5-4-3 double play ball to end the visiting half of the fifth. In the bottom half, ASU could not capitalize on a leadoff walk by Campos.
Stevenson allowed two runs on three walks and hits, cutting the Sun Devil lead to 3-2. He stranded two runners with a lineout to Hill to end the inning.
Wyatt Crenshaw got on base for the second time with a double in the right-center gap but Luke Keaschall stranded runners on second and third with a groundout to shortstop.
Stevenson worked his fourth inning of the night, navigating a two out single to escape the frame without allowing a run. San Diego State also forced the minimum in the home half of the seventh.
Nolan Lebamoff started the eighth, but was pulled after recording one out and loading the bases. Jesse Wainscott allowed two inherited runners to score without allowing a hit and recording the final two outs. ASU entered the bottom half of the eighth trailing 4-3.
Will Rogers started the Sun Devil rally with a hit through the left side. He was behind 1-2 in the count. Isaiah Jackson bunted him to second. In a gutsy call, Rogers swiped third, putting him in sacrifice fly position with one down. Wyatt Crenshaw delivered the game-tying RBI. The Aztecs and Sun Devils went into the ninth knotted at four.
The Aztecs took a 5-4 lead after an E3 allowed a run to score from third with two outs. Brock Peery hurled three strikes on sliders to get ASU out of the jam.
Pinch-hitter Kien Vu recorded his first career hit on a full-count single to open the ninth. Four pitches later, Luke Keaschall’s first hit as a Sun Devil was a game-tying triple, driving in Ku. After the Aztecs intentionally walked Ryan Campos and Ethan Long, Rogers lined a single into left field to drive in the winning run.
Arizona State Head Coach Willie Bloomquist
“What a way to start. The guys battled. We had every opportunity to cash that one in. Played very sloppy in a lot of ways but it’s tough to win. (It’s) tough to win games and they battled tough toward the end. Some guys stepped up big time, Kien Vu with that at bat in the ninth. Kid’s a baseball player and ready for his opportunity and made the most of it.”
On Will Rogers…
“He’s a great kid. It could not have happened to a better kid. Will really gives us the opportunity to lengthen out that lineup. Obviously he has power, he has it, but he’s worked very diligently on becoming a well rounded hitter.”
Arizona State Sophomore Catcher Will Rogers
On having a fresh roster…
“I have this feeling in my heart right now that something is there, and it’s different then anything else I have ever been a part of.”
Sun Devil Baseball looks to build off its opening day win with two more games against San Diego State. The Sun Devils play the Aztecs Saturday at 1 p.m. MST in the second game of a three-game series. The game can be heard on KDUS 1060 AM and seen on the ASU live stream.
Press Release courtesy of Sun Devil Athletics – Josh Schwam and Sean Lynch